In South Carolina, alcohol-related offenses can get you into serious trouble. Most of these crimes carry the potential for jail time, and they all carry consequences that can impact your life for years to come. As a result, if you have been charged with an alcohol-related offense, you need to take your situation seriously, and you should discuss your case with a South Carolina criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
These are the Most Common Alcohol-Related Crimes Under South Carolina Law
While you can potentially face a number of different charges if you are accused of a crime involving alcohol in South Carolina (including charges that are not specifically alcohol-related), there are certain charges that are particularly common. Here are seven of the most common alcohol-related crimes in South Carolina:
1. Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Under Section 56-5-2930 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, “It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired . . . .” This is South Carolina’s driving under the influence (DUI) law, and a key aspect of the law is that you do not need to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or above in order to be found guilty in court.
As summarized by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS), “If you have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, it will be inferred that you were driving under the influence. If you have a BAC that is at least 0.05 percent but less than 0.08 percent, your BAC level may be considered along with other evidence to infer that you are under the influence.” In other words, your BAC is one factor that can be considered in determining whether you are driving under the influence, but you can be convicted of DUI even if the prosecutor’s office does not have reliable evidence of a high BAC.
2. Driving with Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC)
While your BAC does not have to be above 0.08 percent in order for you to face a DUI charge, if your BAC is recorded at 0.08 percent or above, this is enough on its own to support a charge for driving with unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC). Section 56-6-2933 of the South Carolina Code of Laws plainly states:
“It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while his alcohol concentration is eight one-hundredths of one percent or more.”
Furthermore, under Section 56-5-2933, DUAC is subject to mandatory minimum penalties. These include, “a fine of four hundred dollars or imprisonment for not less than forty-eight hours nor more than thirty days,” provided that the judge may order 48 hours of community service in lieu of imprisonment.
3. Felony DUI
In certain cases, individuals who are arrested for driving under the influence or driving with unlawful alcohol concentration can be charged with a felony DUI. A felony DUI charge can be filed in any case in which an allegedly drunk driver is accused of causing, “great bodily injury or death to another person.” For cases involving great bodily injury, penalties can include up to a $10,100 fine and 15 years in prison. For cases involving death, penalties can include up to a $25,100 fine and 25 years of incarceration.
4. Implied Consent Violation
Under South Carolina’s implied consent law, drivers are required to submit to a breath test when they get pulled over on suspicion of DUI. If you refuse the breath test, you can be charged with an implied consent violation, and you can automatically lose your driver’s license for 90 days for a first-time offense. This is true even if you were not actually drunk behind the wheel.
5. Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
Boating is a way of life for many South Carolina residents, and visitors from across the country flock to South Carolina’s lakes, rivers, and beaches every year. In South Carolina, boating under the influence (BUI) is a serious offense, and the penalties for BUI are similar to those for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or impaired. Under Section 50-21-112 of the South Carolina Code of Laws:
“It is unlawful for a person to operate a moving motorized water device or water device undersail upon the waters of this State while under the . . . influence of alcohol to the extent that the person’s faculties to operate are materially and appreciably impaired . . . .”
6. Open Container Violation
The South Carolina Code of Laws contains two separate sections that outlaw open containers of alcohol. Under Section 61-4-110, “[i]t is unlawful for a person to have in his possession, except in the trunk or luggage compartment, beer or wine in an open container in a motor vehicle of any kind while located upon the public highways or highway rights of way of this State.” Under Section 61-6-4020, “[i]f the cap or seal on the container has been opened or broken, it is unlawful to transport the liquors in a motor vehicle, except in a trunk, luggage compartment, or cargo area that is separate and distinct from the driver’s and passengers’ compartments.”
7. Public Disorderly Conduct
Finally, while South Carolina does not have a law is specific to public drunkenness, being drunk in public is considered a form of “public disorderly conduct” under Section 16-17-530 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. If you are, “in a grossly intoxicated condition or otherwise conducts himself in a disorderly or boisterous manner,” you can be charged with a misdemeanor and face penalties including up to a $100 fine and 30 days in jail.
Have You Been Charged with a Crime in South Carolina?
If you have been charged with DUI, BUI, an implied consent violation, or any other alcohol-related crime in South Carolina, you need experienced legal representation. To speak with a Rock Hill, SC criminal defense attorney in confidence, call 803-328-8822 or request an initial consultation online now.